While Summer is in Bloom, Let Your Imagination Grow Wild
With summer in full swing, it is easy to forget to work on skills or habits that will improve children’s education. However, with so many activities to do on sunny summer days, it is easy to integrate education, fun, and some performing along the way. Here are 5 tips to get your children thinking about personal growth through the arts.
Be with your children more, and ask lots of questions!
On hot summer days, sometimes all we want to do is relax and let the kids play, but it is important as parents to provide them with opportunities to learn along the way. When you go to the beach, instead of just laying back to soak in the sun, engage in building a sand castle, going on a deep dive adventure, or smelling all the roses in the garden. When we do things WITH our children, we have the opportunity to guide them through these experiences, and to make them even more wonderful. Give them instructions and games to encourage their imagination. While walking through the garden ask them questions about the flowers, plants, and bugs. See if they can tell you a story about the lone dandelion, or imagine you are all bugs and need to pollinate every flower with your nose! You will be surprised at how quickly they can create their own games inside their heads.
Read to them during the heat of the day
My yard is the perfect space for summers; cool and shaded in the morning, great for playing outside and getting some fresh air, and hot and sunny in the evening, perfect for splashing through a sprinkler or getting a slight tan. However, in the middle of the day it can be hard to find the perfect place, as its too sunny outside, but also not quite time to cool off. So, just after lunch, give your kids a reading break, or a time to sit and relax a bit. You can let them know they will be playing outside later, but for this time, engaging in their reading comprehension and imagination will benefit their outdoor play later. This also allows some time for them to settle down, get out of the sun, and have time to relax. Better yet, you don’t have to worry about if they will burn being outside for so long. Letting them know they will be going outside again also gives them a reward for later, making the reading easier to jump into.
Outdoor performance games are a blast
Anytime of day is a good time to play, so why not introduce them into some great improvisation games! With so many items to play with outside or around the house, you could play a game of “this is A…” where they have to find a different use for a common object, like using sunscreen to clean the windows! Or a hula hoop as a necklace! You could also play “the floor is lava” where those same items now become the only things you can stand on. “Yes… And…” is a great way to create a list of things for you all to do, and can be set up almost like a game of “H.O.R.S.E” where every person has to copy the actions of another person, and it can also be a great way to build future planning for the following day (“tomorrow lets go to the park””yes and then we can go to the creek in the park and jump on the rocks””yes and while we jump on the rocks, we can make it to the park””yes and while we are at the park we can visit with our friends if they are around”. This makes deciding what to do that week a whole lot easier, and makes your child feel like they were involved in the decision making.
Encourage exploration and roll by example
We have this playplace in our back yard, and the kids just love going down the slide. In fact, that’s all that they do: go up the stairs, go down the slide, go up the stairs, go down the slide, go up the slide, go down the slide backwards. But there are so many other cool things on this playplace: tunnels, rock climbing, binoculars, just additional things that at first glance kids look past them. It is only when we lead by example and show them they can climb through this area, or do this with it, or climb here, that they begin to explore those things more. The more you explore with them, and are curious about things, the more engaged they will be too! This is also true for things they are scared of, or shy of; By encouraging exploration of those things and leading by example (not just telling the child to “go in there”), we build trust with them, and can also show them there is nothing to be afraid of. Plus, this exploration also helps them imagine new things they could do!
Engage with them at meal times or while in the car by using question games
Everybody loves a question game. It is fun, inclusive, and uses creativity to come up with answers. “Would you rather” is a great icebreaker to get kids excited about responding to questions, because they can be outlandish and come up with crazy reasons why. “20 questions” is also a great game because it forces us to use deductive reasoning to find the answer. Remember, when playing these types of games it is important to have fun, but also focus on expanding ideas and working on full sentence structure. “I’d rather be superman” is a good way to start, but eventually they should be able to respond with a solid “I’d rather be superman than batman because superman has superpowers and batman is just rich… wait a sec, I’d rather be batman because he’s rich!”
Summer is a great time to explore and go out, so let your child’s imagination and educational growth flower with these tips. Sure you can tell them to go out and squirt each other with a hose, but having them imagine things and participating with them is the best way for them to grow, and you get to join in the fun as well!